Opinion: Gun violence is an everyone issue


Used with express permission from Helen Richardson, The Denver Post

Gun violence protesters stand on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol on March 28 brandishing signs. The protests come after repeated acts of mass violence using firearms.

Grace Metz, Editor-In-Chief

Fifty-two school buses made the trek to the home and office of Republican Senator Ted Cruz in the dry Texas heat. Yet, instead of dropping off droves of students for a new school day, the buses served as a grim reminder of the opposite.
Containing 4,368 empty seats, the “NRA Children’s Museum,” spearheaded by gun control advocacy group Change the Ref, aimed to educate Cruz and the wider public on the 4,368 children killed by gun violence since 2020.
However, with $176,274 in donations to the NRA and thousands of kids who never got back on the bus that day, those unfilled seats demanded more than the senator’s attention. They demanded change.

It’s easy to feel hopeless right now. Acts of mass violence appear to be as common as tornado sirens or new Covid cases; a routine of asking “what’s next?” before that feeling bleeds into a numbness that seems gross to dwell on.
Brawls over party lines in the wake of tragedies like the Columbine High School massacre, an attack which stole the lives of 13 and injured 20, encouraged the movement among survivors of gun violence to take root on street corners and in the halls of congress.
But no matter how effective these grassroots efforts may be, the fine lines of red and blue, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, will continue to define and undermine concerns over public safety.

Since Columbine, it’s become a trend among conservative commentators like Alex Jones to denounce hate-motivated shootings as fraud; a trend which is both destructive and, based on the popularity of Jones’ talking points among right wing politicians and voters alike, surprisingly common.
As of the conception of the modern Republican party, gun rights have been essential in political messaging; a tool for bludgeoning political borders into chasms.
However, left-leaning politicians and activists are not absolved of blame for degrading inter-party cooperation.
Democratic figures’ tendencies to invalidate gun owners’ lukewarm sentiments on gun control push them further towards the right, away from anti-gun violence movements, and alienating many from conversations on gun reform.
In fact, the belief that gun owners are too attached to their weapons to support any meaningful change is just plain misguided. 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. own a firearm, yet just 20% are members of the NRA, and even fewer state that guns are an integral part of their identity.

It may seem impossible now, but restrictions on assault weapons have been proven to reduce the amount of mass shootings in America.
After a series of shootings in Stockton, California in 1993, a bill was signed into law by former president Clinton in 1994 banning the manufacture, transfer, and sale of automatic weapons.
Despite this unprecedented bipartisanship, the initiative expired in 2004 proceeding a “sunset provision,” guaranteeing the upkeep of the bill for only 10 years before a new vote was required.
Ultimately, a Congress dominated by an increasingly aggressive political climate, and an unwillingness to come together in the interest of public health, struck down the legislation which reduced mass shooting fatalities by 70% in favor of gleaning a fiery and divided voter base for points in the polls.
Uvalde, Buffalo, and more recently Highland Park, are some of the many cities, towns, and communities that have been ripped apart at the seams by gun violence—and, until we unite as a nation against the mass shooting epidemic, they will not be the last.